Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Defense seeks to undermine key witness in Hillsborough baby killing case

Richard McTear, in court Tuesday, is accused of killing a baby found on Interstate 275 in Tampa in 2009.

Pool photo

Richard McTear, in court Tuesday, is accused of killing a baby found on Interstate 275 in Tampa in 2009.

TAMPA — "It's a dirty game" was Richard McTear Jr.'s motto. He had the phrase tattooed on his forearm, and he repeated it to reporters after his arrest five years ago on charges that he murdered his ex-girlfriend's baby and threw the infant onto the side of the interstate.

On Tuesday, the opening day of his trial, McTear's defense attorney Mike Peacock took those words and pointed them at the jury.

"The question for you is: What is the dirty game that was being referred to, and who is playing it?" he said.

Peacock and Assistant State Attorney Ron Gale agree that on May 5, 2009, a 3-month-old boy named Emanuel Wesley Murray was found dead on the side of Interstate 275 S, his skull fractured. And for the most part, they agree that the state's key witness, McTear's former girlfriend Jasmine Bedwell, knows the answer to the question of who murdered her son and who is telling the truth about the last hours of his short life.

But as Peacock made plain in his opening statement to the jury, he plans to make Bedwell's credibility a major issue in the case. Her strength as a witness is already an open question. The state's first attempt at trying McTear for murder ended in a mistrial last year after Bedwell testified that he had threatened to shoot her son in the face and urinate on him, something she was barred from mentioning in court.

McTear's attorney told jurors that at various times, Bedwell had blamed different men for his death. Though she told sheriff's deputies it was her ex-boyfriend, McTear, 26, who threw the baby onto concrete outside of her apartment, she later told a confidant that it was her uncle who was responsible, Peacock said.

Peacock suggested a possible third actor: Liderrius Moore, the young man he said Bedwell began dating shortly before her son was killed. There was at least an hour during which the infant was in Moore's care and Bedwell was absent, he said.

Moore, who was the first witness to testify, rejected that theory. The last time he saw the baby, Emanuel was awake and alert, he said.

In his opening statement, Gale painted a portrait of Bedwell as a young mother whose jealous ex-boyfriend set out to destroy her life.

In the early hours of May 5, McTear was waiting in Bedwell's apartment for her to come home from an evening with Moore, Gale said. The moment she locked the front door behind her, he pounced, the prosecutor said, hitting and biting her.

Gale said McTear opened a can of soda and poured it onto the baby's face. He picked up the car seat holding Emanuel and flung it across the room. Bedwell grabbed Emanuel and ran. But as she started to leave, the baby fell out of her arms and landed on the sidewalk, Gale said. Bedwell kept running, reaching a neighbor's apartment, where she called 911.

A Hillsborough crime scene investigator testified Tuesday that she found possible blood stains on one of the apartment's walls and a blue pacifier lying in the grass outside. If convicted, McTear could be sentenced to death.

Found on the side of the interstate, Emanuel was pronounced dead at the scene, but it remains unclear exactly what killed him or how he got there. Gale said investigators linked blood stains on McTear's shorts to the baby, and Emanuel's blood was found in a car that McTear was known to drive.

"The causes of death are multiple and severe skull fractures," he said. "This could not have happened just by the baby being dropped, unless it was from some great height."

The infant was covered in "road rash," when a passer-by found him, Gale said. His skin was still bleeding, suggesting that he was alive when he was left on the side of I-275 near Fowler Avenue.

"A heart was still beating," Gale said.

Contact Anna M. Phillips at aphillips@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3354. Follow @annamphillips.

Defense seeks to undermine key witness in Hillsborough baby killing case 07/22/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 10:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gregg Allman dies at age 69

    Blogs

    From our friends at the Associated Press:

    Singer/Songwriter Gregg Allman performs during the 2010 BamaJam Music & Arts Festival at the corner of Hwy 167 and County Road 156 on June 5, 2010.
  2. Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of Virginia special agent

    Crime

    RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia State Police special agent died Saturday after being shot by a man sitting in a car in Richmond, police said. The shooting suspect fled on foot, sparking an overnight manhunt that ended with the man's arrest about an hour after the agent's death.

    This image provided by the Virginia State Police shows law enforcement investigating the scene of a shooting early Saturday in Richmond, Va.   Special Agent Michael T. Walter, a Virginia State Police special agent died Saturday after being shot by a man sitting in a car in Richmond, police said. The shooting suspect fled on foot, sparking an overnight manhunt that ended with the man's arrest about an hour after the agent's death. Virginia State Police said in an emailed statement that Travis A. Ball of Richmond is being held without bond on charges that include malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. (Virginia State Police via AP)
  3. Mayor Rick Kriseman says St. Petersburg mayoral election is about going forward, not back

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman christened his campaign office Friday evening by telling his supporters that the mayoral election was about moving forward, not backward.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says mayoral election is about inclusiveness Friday at campaign office rally
  4. Forecast: Lots of sunshine, low humidity to start Memorial Day weekend

    Weather

    The start of your long Memorial Day weekend is all sunshine this Saturday, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Rick Kearbey.

    WTSP seven-day forecast on May 27, 2017.
  5. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …